Globalization, technological development, and market expansion have fundamentally changed both the farming itself and the checklist of qualities a modern farmer should possess. Agronomists of the 21st century are much more aware of the market, economy, and technological innovations that can boost the efficiency of their farm.
Such awareness owes to the fact that modern farming implies integration of the latest technologies into the process of growing crops. Another difference between modern farmers and farmers of the past is the diversity. Today’s farming is not limited to a certain gender, age, or any other feature of a typical average farmer portrait.
The only thing that remains constant in farming at all times is the dependence on weather and climate. As a farmer from Iowa, Steve Anderegg, says, “Your livelihood is in the hands of Mother Nature, and at times, it can make you unsure of the future”. However, it doesn’t prevent farmers from loving their job while satisfying the world’s population food demand. Besides, there are plenty of modern technologies to help them along the way. So, let’s see what modern farming is like, with all the new innovations and opportunities that ensure better efficiency and easier farm management.
The Features of Modern Farming
To build and maintain a successful farming business, modern growers need to be in hand with not only the latest agronomy trends and innovations but also the ways of operating their farm as a business. It means they have to think and act as entrepreneurs, having full understanding that the success of their farm rests primarily on their shoulders.
How do they measure the success of a farm? As in any other business, it comes down to the difference between profit and loss. And to ensure bigger profits and minor losses, modern farmers turn to new techniques to manage their fields easier, faster, and even remotely. Such shift towards the use of technology to increase efficiency in farming has resulted in different principles of modern farming, distinguishing it from the farming of the past.
The practices of precision farming revolve around the use of technology and accurate data that provides farmers with an opportunity to make precise decisions throughout all crops development stages.
Bioengineering is a practice common to urban farms. This practice implies growing crops from genetically modified seeds with the purpose of making them more resistant to pests, diseases, weather-related threats, or to increase the nutrients or vitamins content in a particular crop.
Despite the popularity of bioengineered crops, some farmers tend to avoid them, same as the application of synthetic pesticides and herbicides. Such farmers rely on the constantly growing demand for organic food. Besides, growing organic products is a great opportunity for small farmers to make a profit due to high prices on such goods.
Sustainable farming aims to meet human needs for food and fiber while preserving the environment and natural resources. More than that, it ensures farmers get the most out of their fields via smart management and reliable decision-making. The key principles of sustainable agriculture include:
- Integration of biological and ecological processes into agricultural and food production practices (nutrient cycling, soil regeneration, nitrogen fixation, etc.)
- Using reduced amounts of environmentally harmful pesticides and herbicides
- Sharing and using the experience and knowledge among farmers
One way to start following the principles of sustainable farming and becoming more efficient is to use modern technology and online tools designed specifically with this purpose. It could be drones, sensors, or tools that leverage satellite monitoring for field management. All of these help farmers to join the “sustainability train”, saving the resources and environment while increasing profits.
Now that we have an understanding of what modern farming is like, let’s figure out who a modern farmer actually is.
Modern Farmer’s Profile
Most farmers come from families that have been in the farming business for decades. Therefore, every next generation just naturally follows in the footsteps, taking over the family venture. Besides, most of them genuinely enjoy farming, reaping the benefits of the rural lifestyle and the outdoor work. The only thing that has changed over time is that today’s farmers usually have another activity they are dedicated to. But despite the amount of time they devote to farming, operating an agricultural business requires specific knowledge and experience to keep it afloat.
That is why getting education is vital to becoming a successful modern farmer. That implies gaining knowledge not only in crop growing but also becoming a tech-savvy and a business expert. More than that, a modern farmer must also be aware of government policies and regulations that concern the agricultural sphere. Ultimately, the best way to access knowledge on how to operate a farming business is to get an MBA. And the other helpful fields to study would be biology, environmental science, and modern technology.
Overall, the versatility of skills and knowledge a modern farmer should possess only proves that today’s agronomists couldn’t be any further from the stereotypical image that has been following them from the past. Successful modern farmers have a good sense of business acumen, understand the benefits of using technology, and know how to calculate and mitigate risks, while feeding the world population and increasing profits.